Alternate headline: “He’s running.”

No, seriously, though. As strange as it seems, I think he might honestly oppose legalizing SSM.

He blasted the U.S. Supremes for substituting “their own judgment for the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. In the Republican Congress in the ‘90s and Bill Clinton. I thought that Justice Kennedy’s opinion was, in many respects, incredibly insulting to those people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and Bill Clinton.”

“He basically said that the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people. That’s heck of a thing to say about Bill Clinton and about the Republican Congress back in the ‘90s. And it’s just another example of judicial supremacy, rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for,” said Christie, who recently appeared with Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiative conference…

“You’re talking about changing an institution that’s over 2,000 years old. Seems to me that, you know … the Democrats are putting an increase to the minimum wage on the ballot,” Christie said, noting Democratic opposition to a referendum. “That’s important enough to put on the ballot. But gay marriage is not. That’s something the people should decide, but not whether same-sex marriage should happen in New Jersey.”

He does know that his new buddy Bill applauded yesterday’s decision, right?

Why do I think he might be on the level in opposing gay marriage? Because, at this point, I don’t see what he gains by holding that position if he isn’t. It doesn’t help him win more votes in Jersey. It doesn’t help him with an independent candidacy in 2016, which would be aimed at fiscal conservatives and social moderates. He’s burned so many bridges with conservatives that I don’t see how it helps him running as a Republican either, even in social conservative strongholds like Iowa. Does anyone see anti-gun, Obama-hugging Chris Christie winning the caucuses against more outspoken social cons like Santorum, Rubio, and maybe Huckabee, notwithstanding his opposition to SSM? The best I can do to come up with a theory for why he might be posing this way politically is that, if he does somehow win the GOP nomination, being on record against gay marriage will reduce the risk of social conservatives staying home.

But that’s assuming that people believe him. Christie’s problem here is that both culturally, as a northeastern Republican, and politically, by virtue of his many recent antagonisms with the right, his conservative bona fides is suspect. It’s like Obama pretending to be against gay marriage in 2008; a few dummies did believe that, but if you looked at the rest of O’s politics and his cultural identity as an Ivory Tower liberal intellectual, it was simply insane to think that he could sincerely oppose SSM. Christie’s political and cultural identity is different, but normally someone who favors gun control, believes in man-made global warming, and wants to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare is a safe bet not to be a hardliner on gay marriage. (And in fact, while Christie’s vetoed a gay-marriage bill before, he supports civil unions and has invited the public to pass a gay-marriage referendum if they really want to see change.) If he was in the business of taking phony positions on issues that might instantly disqualify him with lots of conservatives, we would have never seen headlines like this, would we?